Interview with Eyad Sarraj

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Mr. Eyad Sarraj is director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Program and was interviewed by The Palestine Report on the uneasy mood in the Gaza Strip.

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I think that the main problem is that some of the violent energy of the Palestinians that was directed against the common enemy is now directed against the internal community. The signs of that are the forming of different militias, armed militias; the taking of the law into the hands of some people because there is a vacuum of authority and law and the distributing of different leaflets accusing prominent people in the Authority of corruption – even threatening to kill them.

Other signs are clashes between people – like what happened two days ago in Jabalya and yesterday in Khan Younis, internal fighting that has taken the form of tribal or family feuds – the assassination of [television magnate] Hisham Mekki, the execution of the so-called collaborators in summary trials. All these are signs of internal violence, that the energy now is directed internally, which leads to political fragmentation and also identity narrowing. When people are facing the common enemy, they are Palestinians. Now they are less in their identity than Palestinians. They are militias or belonging to a political party or even a tribe or a family.

[Ed.’s note: Sarraj gave the following account of events at Jabalya Refugee Camp. A 13-year-old boy was circulating pictures of himself carrying bombs strapped to his body as a suicide bomber. The Palestinian Preventative Security wanted to question him. His family refused and the security branch summoned his brother, who also refused. The Preventative Security then sent some troops to investigate. Meanwhile, the people in Jabalya had prepared themselves. There was a clash between the two groups, resulting in some wounded and the arrest of 18 from the camp.]

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